When LEA support falls down

16th February 1996 at 00:00
Our programmes of work for English as a second language learners are supported by three local education authority based Section 11 teachers who work almost full-time in the school, and are co-ordinated, with their other colleagues, by an adviser.

Two of the teachers provide a worthwhile service; the work of the other has been consistently unsatisfactory and resistant to guidance, direction or persuasion. My complaints to the co-ordinator have resulted in generally ineffectual action. Who will be held responsible by inspectors for this teacher's unsatisfactory, wasteful performance?

You will find that inspection reports treat Section 11 education as part of whole school provision, even where it is allocated a separate "paragraph". I have no doubt that inspectors will hold school management, together with relevant members of your staff, responsible for monitoring and maintaining this teacher's work at a level that properly serves the children's needs. But, of course, the matter is never as simple as that. The LEA co-ordinator has a very serious responsibility for the performance and behaviour of the team.

Heads have a justifiable sense of grievance in those rare cases where external supervision of advisory teams is inadequate or incompetent, especially in the case of Section 11 teachers where schools have little opportunity of being selective. Complaints are obviouslyunproductive so I suggest the following line of action.

* Meet quite formally at the beginning of each term with the co-ordinator, the Section 11 teachers and involved members of your staff, and work out in detail the Section 11 programmes, with precise targets and objectives.

* Establish clear, agreed criteria that will enable you to measure progress by the term's end to evaluate whether it meets expectations.

* Agree arrangements for monitoring and supporting the Section 11 teachers and a division of responsibility for this between the school and the LEA co-ordinator.

Such measures will place you on firmer ground than you currently occupy. They will contribute to effective teaching and children's entitlement, identify short-comings and the reasons for them, enable you to proceed more firmly with a recalcitrant teacher, forge a more productive partnership with the LEA co-ordinator and, not least, justify your management of the issue to an inspection enquiry.

Bill Laar is a registered inspector. Write to him at The TES, Admiral House,66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Fax 0171-782 3200 e-mail: letters@tes1.demon.co.uk

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